The False Claims Act – One Defense Against Military Contractor Fraud
A study done by the National Contract Management Association revealed that in 2014, at close to three billion dollars, the Department of Defense accounted for two-thirds of the nation’s corporate contract spending. This vast amount of money, however, provides ample incentive for dishonest contractors to bilk the government and taxpayers, and potentially put the lives of U.S. military members at risk. One defense against these unscrupulous fraudsters is the False Claims Act.
During the Civil War, dishonest contractors sold the Union Army decrepit horses, faulty weapons, and rancid food. In response, Congress passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863. Abraham Lincoln was President when the False Claims Act was passed and it is sometimes referred to as the “Lincoln Law.”
The False Claims Act permits private individuals to bring lawsuits on behalf of the government for the fraudulent conduct. The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act provides that the whistleblower who brings the action may share in any recovery by the government.
Government contractors are used to provide many types of goods and services. The Department of Defense contracts with private companies to provide a vast array of things from aircraft and weapon systems to food and uniforms. The submission by a contractor of a “false claim” may give rise to a violation of the False Claims Act.
There are many ways crooked contractors can bilk the system. Some of the most common types of contractor fraud involve falsification of invoices, providing substandard or defective goods but certifying they are without defect, certifying that something has passed a test when it has not, and charging the government a higher price than the company charges a non-government purchaser for the same product or service.
All types of contractor fraud hit the government and taxpayers in the wallet. Some types of fraud however, also put lives at risk. For example, selling defective airplane parts to the government that it unknowingly uses in military aircraft or providing defective weapons to the military that are subject to malfunctioning.
Reporting government fraud through the filing of a False Claims Act can help put a stop to these bad actors. If you have firsthand knowledge of any type of fraud on the government, contact our office to see if you may have a viable False Claims Act case.